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Since the postponement of Expo 2020 Dubai in May last year, the event’s organisers have been tackling the challenges posed by hosting the first World Expo to be held in the Middle East, Africa and South Asia region amid the uncertainties of the Covid-19 pandemic.
“Considering the turbulence that the world has gone through recently, and the challenges that lie ahead, our theme of ‘Connecting Minds, Creating the Future’ is more relevant now than ever,” says Ahmed al-Khatib, chief development and delivery officer at Expo 2020 Dubai (pictured above, right).
But equally, the “health, safety and wellbeing of everyone visiting and working at Expo” remains the priority, says Al-Khatib, and the host team has worked closely with the UAE health authorities and World Health Organisation in its preparations.
The Covid-19 health and safety measures implemented by the expo team for the January 2021 premiere of the Sustainability pavilion, known as Terra, secured a Dubai Assured compliance stamp from the government. The premiere saw a range of on-site safety, social distancing and sanitisation measures deployed in an indicative trial of the arrangements expected at the main event.
“We will continue to monitor and adjust our health and safety measures as necessary, as our opening date of 1 October approaches, and as the situation evolves throughout the duration of the expo,” says Al-Khatib.
Following vaccination drives for Expo 2020 employees and their families in early 2021, the offer of free vaccinations was extended to all official participants and their staff by Sheikh Hamdan bin Mohammed bin Rashid al-Maktoum, Crown Prince of Dubai and Chairman of the Executive Council of Dubai.
While all participating local and international staff, volunteers, contractors and service providers must be vaccinated for the event, visitors to Expo 2020 are not required to provide proof of immunisation.
“However, we strongly encourage visitors to pre-book their tickets and make use of Expo’s Smart Queue system to book their pavilion experiences, so we are able to safely manage capacities,” says Al-Khatib.
Something for everyone
Sumathi Ramanathan, vice-president – market strategy and sales at Expo 2020 Dubai, says the event will have something for people “of all ages, nationalities and interests, from entertainment and culinary experiences, to technology, architecture, arts and culture”.
Visitors will be able to go on either guided tours or, through the Expo 2020 mobile application, on self-curated journeys. The most comprehensive itineraries will take three days to cover fully. The suggested tours include:
Expo Essentials will showcase innovations from around the world, such as the world’s largest radio satellite, found in the China pavilion; a four-dimensional bio-printer capable of building living tissue cell by cell, located in the Belarus pavilion; as well as world music performances and international cuisine.
Expo Mobility will showcase next-generation transport innovations, from the future of air travel to the ways in which artificial intelligence is changing how we live and work.
Expo Energy will take visitors on a tour of the net-zero energy pavilions, and highlight examples of vertical farming and other climate-resilient technology.
Expo for Techies & Innovators
Expo for Techies & Innovators will take visitors on a focused advanced technology tour looking at augmented reality, space exploration and artificial intelligence, including a break for lunch with robots.
Expo School Programme
The Expo School Programme includes four themed tours with education-linked subject matter suitable for school trips.
Other journeys include Expo for Families, Expo for Couples, Expo Health & Wellness, Expo Architecture & Design and Expo for Foodies.
Experiencing the site
Ticket sales for the event commenced on 18 July, with prices ranging from AED95 ($27.43) for a day pass to AED495 ($142.91) for a six-month, unlimited entry pass. Packages have also been created for business visitors, which include networking opportunities and lounge access.
“We have been delighted by ticket sales so far, particularly the number of season passes sold,” says Sumathi Ramanathan, vice-president – market strategy and sales at Expo 2020 Dubai (pictured above, left). “The support from UAE residents and people from around the globe has been overwhelming and reflects visitors’ understanding of the great value and diversity of Expo 2020 Dubai.”
Running in parallel to the physical event will be a virtual expo, designed to widen the reach of Expo 2020.
“The virtual expo is an events-focused platform, offering a three-dimensional view of the site and pavilions, regularly updated over the course of the event,” says Ramanathan. “We want to leverage tomorrow’s technology to excite and inspire, creating entirely new types of experiences.”
Expo-led construction on the site was completed at the end of 2019, and now final touches such as landscaping are under way in the public areas and the spaces that surround the thematic and country pavilions. The majority of the country pavilions are also in their final stages of construction.
“Expo 2020 is committed to hosting a once-in-a-lifetime experience,” says Al-Khatib. “A six-month global celebration of creativity, innovation, humanity and world cultures that will bring the world together and inspire action.
“While we will continue to tackle the impact of Covid-19, the planet is also currently facing a wealth of other issues, including climate change and equal access to basic human rights,” he adds. “Seeking inspiring solutions to these challenges remains the focal purpose of Expo 2020 Dubai.”
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